University Return In The Age Of The New Normal: A short welcome note from Team Gown

Peter Donnelly, Editor & Nicole Traynor, Deputy Editor

On behalf of The Gown we wish all new ‘fresher’ and returning students a welcome back to a unique, to say the least, 2020-2021 academic year. 2020 will go down in the history volumes as one of the strangest years there has been in modern times.

What may allay or console your concerns and uncertainites this Fresher’s Week (slightly, at the very least) is the thought that all students, returning to universities the length and breadth of the UK, Ireland and around the globe, are on the same boat. It is what students do to maximise their student experience, in the midst of the Covid chaos, that really matters. Stay sensible, safe, healthy and embrace this as the once-in-a-lifetime journey which you will never have again.

We have just come through a six month national lockdown and sacrificed social events and activities for the greater good of public health and it is important that the health and safety of the community at large occupies the forefront of our thoughts.

It is young people, in the 17-34 year group, who are most likely to be asymptomatic to Covid-19 and subsequently pass it on to vulnerable groups in out community. No one carries this duty lightly as was demonstrated by many young people fulfilling vacancies in tirelessly providing essential services during the worst of the health crisis, whether in local grocery shops or supermarkets or in the regional NHS Trusts.

With the infection rate ominously on the upward spiral, further restrictions being introduced by the Northern Ireland Executive throughout the country and many University teaching being conducted online, moments on our own seem inevitable.

Nobody is alone and in tough times there are always people around the University to support you and provide you with a helping hand – one of the few constants amidst the Covid chaos.

Contact details of support groups:

  • Inspire – (24/7 helpline – Freephone) – 0808 800 0016 (Wellbeing Support)
  • Lifeline – (24/7 helpline – Freephone) – 0808 808 8000
  • Samaritans – 116 123 (national line) or 028 9066 4422 (Belfast)
  • Emergency Services – 999 / Police Non-Emergency – 101

The Queen’s Student Guidance Centre offer a Drop In Service online. You can contact them by phoning 07387 546 123.

Further information on the health and safety measures adopted by Queen’s University are available at

For new students entering first year, check out this useful Oxford University Press Student Panel Blogue at

Should you feel that there is a particular aspect of student life which you think would be beneficial to share with your peers, in the context of Covid-19, we are always open for submissions; e-mail us at

We wish everyone the best of luck at the start of the first semester under the reigns of the ‘new normal.’

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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